The water crisis in Cape town also has consequences for tourists

In South Africa approaching Day Zero, the day on which there may be no more water from the tap in Cape town. The current water crisis has also consequences for the millions of tourists that the city each year to visit. They must also be economical with water.

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Last year, reported the city understand the arrival of a record number of tourists, a growth of 28 percent compared to the previous year. The visitors come for attractions such as table Mountain with its cable car, robben island and cape point.

The tourism industry in the province of the western cape, and is good for 300,000 jobs. But now that a water crisis is imminent, also threatens the tourism industry a blow. One of the rules recently, that citizens their water consumption to be limited to fifty liters per day. In other words: a few seconds of showering and the toilet once per day to flush. Who is there not to love, wait a hefty fine.


Patricia Lille, the mayor of the beleaguered city, warned recently that friendly requests to citizens a thing of the past. The city forces its inhabitants to work with. Businesses, hotels included, are not spared when it comes to the rationing of water.

Sisa Ntshona, head of South African Tourism, an organization that tourism promotes, recently said to journalists that tourists still welcome in Cape town. There is, however, expected of them that they are economical with water, ‘like the locals’.

If not in the short term, a significant amount of rain falls, Cape town in July without water. That would have a major impact on the economic outlook for the city. Tourism brings annually more than 3 billion dollars in the province of the western cape, according to figures from the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.

Population growth

Population growth, drought and climate change are the main causes of the water crisis, in a report by Groundup, a project of the Community Media Trust and the University of Cape town. Since 1995, the number of residents with 79 percent, from 2.4 million estimated to 4.3 million in 2018. In the same period, grew the capacity of the reservoirs by only 15 percent.

The dam in the Bergrivier, that since 2007, water saving, is the only additional water tank since 1995, was done. The capacity of 130,000 megaliter (1 megaliter is 1 million liters) is slightly more than 14 percent of the 898.000 megaliter that the other dams of Cape town can save. Without good water management in the past few years would be the crisis, according to Groundup much sooner have struck.

Disease due to dirty water

Although Cape town is currently international in the spotlight, the crisis is not limited to this city. Also in other cities, particularly in Africa, are on the verge of a similar crisis. The African ngo Water Project estimates that, worldwide, half of the hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from diseases that are a result of a lack of clean water. In developing countries, this is 80 percent.

Apart from natural causes and verbruiksniveaus, include water waste, bad policies and a lack of political goodwill to the causes of the watercrises in many large cities. In South Africa, for example, disappears for 37 percent of the water supply through leaks in the many cities, state in a report of GreenCape from 2017. “The main cause of watercrises in cities is almost always poor management,” says Steven Downey, Global Water nership. ‘Drought is annoying, but not insurmountable. That requires planning, prevention and mitigation, before the crisis actually strikes.’

Infrastructure and management

Jens Berggren, director of Communications of the International Water Institute in Stockholm (SIWI), says that cities around the world are dealing with different types of watercrises. “In some places is too little water, others too much, and almost everywhere the water is dirtier than we would like. With so many different challenges, it is impossible to say exactly what the root cause is.” He acknowledges, however, that mismanagement of the causes.

‘If you like it very generally, you can say that the management of water resources is insufficient. In some places the lack of appropriate infrastructure, for example dams, sewage treatment plants, sources, via, pumps and pipelines. In other places, it is mainly a question of inadequate policies or lack of enforcement, resulting in poor service delivery, inefficient use, pollution and bad planning or implementation of projects. In a lot of places to play issues on both the field of infrastructure management.’

Educational experiences in Africa

Better management must go hand in hand with better infrastructure, says Berggren, because it does not work without the other. The experiences in Africa are instructive, ” he says. ‘In Windhoek, Namibia, has experimented with the recycling of water. And there is a lot of interest in the way in which Cape town will deal with the current drought and how the city has managed the consumption of water per inhabitant, and per economic activity, to cut back, ” says Berggren.

Without generalising, he says, is one of the lessons for western and northern parts of the world that they are very dependent and are perhaps too strong a reliance on an infrastructure of concrete and metal. ‘Respond to the nature, such as the prevention of floods by spongy surfaces in and around cities to create the so-called green infrastructure and use natural solutions to use, is becoming increasingly important.’

While the problems in Cape town international headlines, is in neighboring Zimbabwe for twenty years a serious water crisis going on. The capital Harare has already had two decades of problems with the purification of water, what a few years ago resulted in a serious outbreak of typhoid fever. The second city of the country, Bulawayo, rantsoeneert the water almost every year as a result of siltation in the dams. Which are almost all found in the dry, southern part of the country.

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